The water’s stiff

A day of few surprises, at least so far. Reactions are beginning to come in from abroad about decisions to print the Mohammed cartoons in Norway, and there can be few things more predictable than that. One NRK radio debate – because there has to be a debate – did provide some fresh angles and some comic performance.

*If you can't say anything nice...' Illus: Simona Dumitru

I’m addicted to Norway’s only full-time news radio station, even though it quickly gets repetitive even on a wild day. This morning I caught what appeared to be a discussion between three local Muslim groups, with their spokespeople staking out a relative spot on the political spectrum, claiming to be conservative, liberal and middle of the road in their interpretation of Islam.

Norway has been characterized by a very civilized dialog, or conversation, between the native populace and immigrant Muslims, with only the far fringes of both sides generating the kind of temperature usually associated with such debate. The national passion for discussion is by definition inclusive, and tempers tend to dissipate, at least somewhat, if everyone gets a shout.

What was most entertaining for me during this particular debate was how much common ground in terms of respect for freedom of speech there was amongst all participants, until one speaker suggested that one of the others tended to ‘stifle open discussion’.

I know that’s vague, but things erupted so quickly I couldn’t tell who was speaking. The offended party launched into a long and excitable rant about how unfair it was to be accused of not letting others speak, while shouting incessantly and preventing anyone else in the studio from getting a word in. When even the hysteric eventually realized how silly he sounded, tolerant discourse resumed.

Things are finally warming up outside, though the winter weather continues to be upside-down, with the northernmost bits of country actually above freezing, while the southeast is supposed to be heading for single-digit sub-zero temperatures, if we’re lucky.

There has been a rash of moose vs. car collisions recently, as the bitter cold sends the animals in restless search of food. But national daily Dagbladet had a very nice pictorial on a more heart-warming nature subject, a real life version of Bambi on ice.

These pictures are from Sirdalsvannet (Lake Sirdal) near Tonstad in Vest-Agder County.  A close look reveals hidden drama; the rescuers are carrying rifles on their backs, which they will use to put the animals out of their misery if it transpires that they have broken a leg. Luckily the damage was limited to a small cut on one of the baby deer. The two men are enthusiastic hunters, but on this day they were intent on helping before fox arrived to make a meal of it.

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